Over the past two decades, the Internet has become many Americans’ favorite place to shop. Due to the convenience of making purchases from home and having products delivered to the door. The popularity of online shopping has helped a number of Internet retailers establish themselves as major presences in the marketplace. Here some tips to help customers locate reputable online sellers and get the most out of their Internet shopping experiences. Look for a secure Internet connection: Before initiating an online transaction, be sure the website possesses some sort of security protocol. Many websites use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) technology to encrypt the valuable information you send online, including credit card account numbers. Most web browsers contain features that allow you to check that a website is secure. Depending on your software, you may see a padlock icon or a green address bar on secure sites. If you feel more comfortable giving your credit card information over the phone, most web merchants are able accommodate such a request. Always double check pricing: If you come across a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Take extra care to read the fine print and make sure your transaction does not include any hidden costs. Unscrupulous online merchants may compensate for unusually low prices with high shipping and handling charges. Similarly, if you wish to use online auction websites, it is important to learn everything you can about the website’s policies regarding bidding, warranties, returns, and shipping. Check credentials: Before you buy from an online retailer, you should look for logos or other evidence that indicates that the merchant has credentials from a respected third party. Organizations such as the Better Business Bureau provide credentialing services that indicate a high level of professional and ethical conduct, while the VeriSign Trust Seal shows that the ownership of the website has been verified, and that the site has been scanned for malware. Review the terms of your purchase: Before you finalize the transaction, you should carefully review all relevant legal terminology, usually found under the headings “Legal Terms” or “Disclaimers.” If you cannot locate any written terms, you might want to cancel the transaction, or call the merchant and ask questions regarding shipping fees, return and refund policies, and warranty. Inspect your purchase: Upon receiving your shipment, carefully inspect all components to make sure they are in working order. If any part of your purchase is missing or broken, leave the rest of the order intact and call the web merchant immediately to preserve your legal rights. About the Author An online retailer and catalog marketer with more than a decade of experience in the field, The Lakeside Collection enjoys an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, indicating a high standard of performance in areas such as transparency, safeguarding privacy, honoring promises, honest advertising, and building trust with customers.